While retail sales of animal supplements in the US grew an impressive 6.4% last year over 2005, some manufacturers saw double-digit increases-up to 35% and 40%. Several factors fueled the growth, consumer demand among them, says Veterinary Practice News (July 2007). A wide array of specialized products has entered the marketplace beyond just those for joint health. They include condition-specific products for the liver, immune system, anxiety and cognitive function. It may be the animal supplement industry's heralding their products' safety and efficacy-increasingly backed by clinical and laboratory studies-that has had the biggest effect on sales.
While industry leaders believe science has had an undeniable impact on business, they also point out the increasing number of consumers who take supplements-more than half of all Americans regularly take them-and many want them for their animals. One study found that 10% of all dogs and cats in the US take dietary supplements, most commonly multi-vitamins, chondroprotectives and fatty acid supplements. Ailing animals receive even more. Among those with cardiac disease, 31% of dogs and 13% of cats take supplements. Consumers generally rule and they're changing the marketplace, but science seems to be leading the way.
By Lindsay Beaton
As work continues on creating a new nutrition label that focuses on simplifying information for consumers, challenges remain.
By Tang Yu